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Protests around the world commemorate 76th anniversary of the Nakba and call for a cease-fire in Gaza

Protests commemorating the upcoming 76th anniversary of the Nakba and calling for a cease-fire in Gaza were seen around the world this weekend.

The “Nakba,” which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the forced removal of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in preparation for the founding of Israel in 1948. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, some Jewish militias massacred Palestinian civilians, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, and hundreds of thousands of them were forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. Although the Nakba is not believed to have happened in one day, it’s widely commemorated on May 15.

This year, the Nakba anniversary comes amid Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, which has killed over 35,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials. Israel launched its assault on Gaza following the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks, in which some 1,200 people were killed and 250 others taken hostage into Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

Last week, the Israeli army ignored U.S. warnings and ordered around 100,000 people to evacuate Rafah, where many of those who live in Gaza have been displaced over seven months of war. Palestinians who have been forced from their homes fear they are being permanently expelled from their land, just like many of their relatives were in 1948.

Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Madrid
A pro-Palestinian demonstration in Madrid on Saturday.David Canales / Sipa USA via AP

Over the weekend, crowds gathered in cities around the world, including in the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland. Protesters marched with Palestinian flags and signs calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, as well as for displaced Palestinians’ right to return to their homes.

Additional protests in more countries, like Wales, Germany and Belgium, are planned for this week.


In Brooklyn, New York, hundreds of people gathered at the Barclays Center on Saturday to call for an end to what many believe is a genocide in Gaza, as well as to call on the U.S. to stop sending weapons to Israel.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 11, 2024.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday.Alex Kent / Getty Images

The U.S. is still sending weapons to Israel despite stopping an arms shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs to the country last week over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans for a full-scale invasion of Rafah.

Protesters chanted, “We want justice. You know how? Stop bombing Rafah now.” Some brought drums, which they played along with protest chants.

New York City Police Department officers in riot gear were seen closing in on protesters at one point and arresting them. More than 160 people were taken into custody over the course of the protest, according to the NYPD.

Hamed Yaghi and Souad Yaghi, a brother and sister from Connecticut, came to the Brooklyn protest to honor the victims of the Nakba, which they say not many people know about.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators join arms as they block traffic on the Manhattan Bridge.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic on the Manhattan Bridge on Saturday.Alex Kent / Getty Images

“We hope that everyone that sees the protest tries to research the history of Palestine,” 20-year-old Hamed Yaghi told NBC News.

Elsewhere in New York, protesters blocked traffic on the Manhattan Bridge on Saturday.

Pro-Palestinian protest to commemorate Nakba Day in Orlando
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march at Lake Eola Park on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.Paul Hennessy / Anadolu via Getty Images

In Seattle, protesters gathered to commemorate the Nakba at Westlake Park. In videos circulating online, protesters are heard chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has got to go.”


Protesters were seen in multiple cities in the United Kingdom on Saturday, including Bristol and London.

In Bristol, protesters carried signs that read, “Free Palestine.”

Pro-Palestinian Protest London
Protesters in London on Saturday.Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

Protesters wearing and waving Palestinian flags also gathered in Northamptonshire on Saturday.

Another protest commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Nakba is planned in central London this Saturday.


Hundreds of protesters could be seen in Montreal at Westmount Square on Saturday calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Toronto
Demonstrators in Toronto on Saturday. Mert Alper Dervis/= / Anadolu via Getty Images

A few protesters held a banner that read, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

A large gathering of protesters was also seen in Toronto near the U.S. Consulate.


On Sunday, protesters gathered in Melbourne at State Library Victoria.

Pro-Palestinian marchers in Melbourne, Australia.
Pro-Palestinian marchers in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday.@MixtUpMixy via X

One protester held a sign in support of health care workers in Gaza that read, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”

The Netherlands

In Amsterdam, protesters held a large Palestinian flag in the city center, video posted on social media showed.

Pro-Palestinians rally in the center of Amsterdam on May 11, 2024.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally Saturday in the center of Amsterdam.Ana Fernandez / Sipa USA via AP

“10.000 against the settler colonial state and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” one protester wrote in a caption on X accompanying the video.

New Zealand

Supporters of Palestinians were seen in New Plymouth on Sunday carrying a sign that read, “STOP THE GENOCIDE.”

A "Nakba Day" protest in New Plymouth, New Zealand, on May 12, 2024.
A “Nakba Day” protest in New Plymouth, New Zealand, on Sunday.Palestinian Solidarity Taranaki

Also on Sunday in Auckland, protesters gathered at Aotea Square with instruments including drums and saxophones called for a “free Palestine.”


A small group of protesters in Fingal chanted “Free, free Palestine” over the weekend in a video shared by local politician John Burtchaell.

A small group of pro-Palestinian protesters in Fingal County, Ireland
Protesters in Fingal, Ireland, on Saturday.John Burtchaell

One protester held a sign that read, “Hands off Rafah.”

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